It will cost the City of Vernon $137,000 to replace the 350 damaged parking meters downtown.
City councillors will be presented with an update on the uptick in vandalism targeting parking meters in the core during council’s regular meeting Monday, April 27.
The meters were projected to garner more than $950,000 in revenue for the city in the 2020 fiscal year, while the cost of maintenance was budgeted at $14,000, but in the past six months, there has been ongoing vandalism to the parking meter system rendering many useless.
“Bylaw staff have been working closely with RCMP resulting in the arrest and incarceration of six individuals,” the report to council reads.
The parking system is comprised of 950 on-street meters and by April 8, nearly 40 per cent were targeted by vandals and thieves.
“With recent events, this number has increased,” the report continued. “Estimated revenue loss due to damage to parking meters as of March 6, 2020, is $40,000.”
Council will also look at approving an additional $88,000 to replace all parking meter clock housings and dome caps to a high strength ductile iron version.
City administration said the parking meter housings used presently are made of metal and consist of three parts, but the dome cap and clock housing are made of weak, light weight zinc aluminum alloy. These are easily smashed or pried open in order to gain access to the coin vault from the top of the device, often leaving the top components damaged beyond repair.
The housing replacements for the remainder 600 assemblies totals $88,000, including freight and decals.
City staff are working to repair the parking meter system downtown, but even after the work is complete, they are finding the meters damaged again the next night.
Where staff have bolted down the dome caps for extra security, individuals are smashing off the entire top of the meter using a crowbar or hammer, the report said.
Several meters have had the dome cap pop resulting in broken lock pins making them less secure and ultimately easier targets for the “criminally entrenched.”
“Currently, there are insufficient spare parts in stock to complete repairs to the system.”
The City of Vernon has examined the possibility of Pay and Display on-street parking pay stations, but the costs of the terminal, installation and monthly fees “are considerable.”
The city said while they work well in lots and parkades, low-use areas in the BIA would not support these systems.
Terminals may also hinder pedestrian traffic on narrow sidewalks.
The cost of a terminal is around $9,000 each and two terminals would be required for each block so people wouldn’t have to cross the street. Monthly fees total $60 a month per machine. Vernon has approximately 95 blocks of meters, and not all of which can support a pay station.